“People have been staying home too much,” said Penny Finnell who lives in the center of Locust, just a hop, skip and a jump from the West Stanly Senior Center.
Finnell makes it her aim to invite other seniors to the Center.
“It’s a wonderful place to meet new friends and meetup with old friends,” she says.
Finnell teaches a knitting class and leads the book club, and on a recent Friday she joined other women of all ages making Easter decorations.
Neither Cookie Love, activities coordinator, nor Chris Matson like to take credit for their work, but every season they look for monthly craft projects and supplies suitable for the ladies who enjoy hand crafting in a group.
With Easter Bunny images popping up everywhere, a bunny wreath is a favorite motif for spring. A typical door wreath made of spring greenery and blossoms adorned with an iconic bunny shape comes to mind, but Love and Matson wanted something out of the ordinary.
Each participant began with two very-un-bunny-like circular Styrofoam forms and a ball of fluffy, jumbo yarn about as big as a soccer ball.
Because the large ball of yarn proved a bit unwieldy and prone to tangles, the crafters helped one another weave the yarn in and out and around both large and small wreath forms. Next, they secured the circles together with chenille stems, then adorned the bunny with burlap ears, ribbon, and a posey. Voila!
Margaret Greer, 92, brought her great-granddaughters, Jayden and Kierstyn Austin, who come from Matthews and West Virginia as often as they can.
Pam Norwich, an almost full-time volunteer, serves as a greeter, runs the vacuum and pitches in whenever needed.
She sat on the floor with Matson’s two elementary-age granddaughters—who had a school holiday—and worked together to turn a figure-eight into a bunny.
The day’s activity proves it’s often about transforming the ordinary with an element of surprise. The West Stanly seniors have transformed their Christmas tree into a year-round focal point.
“We keep it up all year and change the decorations to match the holiday,” said Love.
Right now, the artificial spruce is decked out in garlands and Easter eggs of lively pink, yellow, lavender, green and blue.
From the beginning, the volunteers have been creative in other ways, too.
Stanly County Family YMCA Membership Director Kelley Bigger has responsibility for the operation of the West Stanly Senior Center.
She notes that a partnership between the YMCA and the WSSC came about because WSSC volunteers asked the Stanly County commissioners for help when they couldn’t meet all the needs of the senior community.
The partnership was born in 2018 and has proven beneficial for all. Ronda Bunn is an after-school and camp coordinator for the YMCA and assists Bigger with Senior Center activities.
The WSSC provides a variety of classes and activities, mostly during daytime hours, five days a week. People come for exercise, Bible studies, board and card games, a movie of the month, line-dancing, classes and much more. There’s even a men’s weekly pool group.
Love said WSSC volunteers serve a free lunch to veterans on the first Wednesday of each month.
As a fundraiser for that ongoing expense, the center is staging an indoor yard sale 8 am-1 pm April 23.
The center is seeking donations for the sale which may be brought to the WSSC, 213 Town Center Dr. Hours are 10 am-4 pm Monday-Friday.